Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to do the Charlotte Mason Method

Many of you are trying to decide how you want to organize your homeschools for the new year. In honor of that, I welcome you to visit my blog of a series that will cover my personal interpretation of the Charlotte Mason Method. I will also include ways that I have made substitutions to suit the needs of my own family. Keep in mind that no teaching method, however wonderful it may be, will fit every member of every family, which is why most of us decided to homeschool. In this series, I will often allude to portions of A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. If you want to get serious about using Charlotte Mason, I urge you to spend a few dollars on this amazing book.

To begin with, let's examine what Karen Andreola interprets in her book to be the best curriculum for a well rounded education. She says that each day, children should have, "Something or someone to love, something to do, something to think about."

If we examine her words, it sounds like a no brainer. Who doesn't have something to do, love, or think about? Believe it or not, a lot of people in this world lack in all three areas. How can you make sure that your children have something to love, something to do, and something to think about every day? What does it all mean?

Something or someone to love: Do your children love each other, or do you spend your days refereeing fights between them? What can you do to help create a more loving environment for them? Only you can answer that for your family. Do they have pets to care for? If so, stand back and let them care for the pets according to their abilities. There are lots of things and people in this world to love, and learning how to love begins at home.

Something to do: School lessons are something to do, but what do your children do after the lessons are put away? Do they become vegetables in front of the TV, or do they have some projects or activities that they like to do? Do you let them choose some of their activities, or do you retain the right to control every aspect of their days? Melody has an after school job, loves opera,shooting sports, reads avidly, and has been researching various species of birds, which led her to purchase one that can be trained to talk and play with the family. Abbey loves softball, shooting sports, and spends a lot of time researching different types of dogs, since she wants to become a dog groomer.

Something to think about: There are plenty of things going on in and around a typical household to foster some serious thought, but does your family talk about these things, or do you often shoo your children away when they want to talk? You will be very surprised by the subjects that are important to them. Topics of meaningful discussion could range from what kind of dog the children want to bring into the family, to the pregnant teenager, or the death of a friend's parent. If you want to harness some teachable moments, your children will invariably give you the right place to start on a daily basis if you stop and let them.

Therefore, this is the heart of your Charlotte Mason Education. Do you need some time to digest the concept? Try starting a journal to jot down your thoughts, hopes, goals, etc. for your homeschool. What does Something or someone to love, something to do and something to think about mean to you and what would you like to do each day with your family?

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's time for homeschooling in the new year.

Melody just finished up her English Composition course with Ashworth College with a 100 average. That tastes so good in my mouth that I might just go around repeating it over and over again. HOOOOORAYYYY for 100!!!! The next course is intro to computers, and I expect her to do just as well, considering the fact that computers have been a major part of her entire life.

Abbey is just a few weeks away from finishing up Y6 of the curriculum on amblesideonline.com, which means that she will move right into Y7, which is the equivalent of 8th grade. Hoootie hoo!!!

Tarja has finished all of her reading readiness stuff and has graduated to math readiness. We've been working out of a huge preschool workbook that we got from Sam's Club. Incidentally, Sam's Club is my haven for homeschool shopping.

Ivana's job is just to eat, sleep and grow. As of today, she is 8 pounds 7 oz. and 21 and 1/4 inches long.

A lot of homeschool friends are gearing up and buying curriculum for the next year. For those that come here looking for ideas, I have found nothing better for my family than the Charlotte Mason method. The best book that I have purchased is A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and the free curriculum on amblesideonline.com is simply the best. Other than that, I love unit studies and lapbooking.

For organization, I use basic things like loose leaf and spiral notebooks. Each week, I write out the lessons as outlined on amblesideonline, look for any new books or links that we need for those lessons, and discuss them with the girls. To make it easy and more fun, I send links to all of the books, lessons and pertinent websites to Abbey's facebook, and she takes it from there. This is also an avenue for teaching time management to older children, and it's as simple as just letting them know what is expected for each day, week, month, etc. and then encourage them to plan their time accordingly.

There are no actual grades for anyone except for Melody. My philosophy is that they either did the lessons right or not. If not, then they haven't learned the lessons and need to keep working. I'm just mean like that, but the older the girls get, the more benefits I see that they have received from my madness.

If you have any questions about getting your homeschool ready for the next term, leave me a comment. I can answer your questions in future blog posts.

Now, I am off to make supper, clean up, crochet, and answer some questions on ChaCha.com. I absolutely LOVE being a homeschooling, work at home mom.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Princess Ivana, 5 Days Old

I have always been told that when newborn babies smile, that they are playing with angels. There's no way to verify that theory, but Ivana seems to smile a lot at such a young age.

This being a homeschool blog, and since homeschoolers typically walk to the beat of a different drummer, I will reflect just a little bit on my parenting preferences.

First of all, I think that breastfeeding is best, but have never been able to do so. I don't always have an ample supply of milk, and even if I did, it might not be beneficial for my baby to be given a heavy duty dose of insulin and thyroid meds. I'm not heartbroken over this, and will never judge a woman that chooses to bottle feed for any reason.

I think that babies are a lot more comfortable and secure if they can sleep with Mom and Dad. There is a lot of controversy about this, because it could be dangerous if not done correctly. If you are a mama that can sleep through a tornado, then co sleeping may not be the best thing to do. I, on the other hand, have always had some pretty messed up sleeping patterns, so I can co sleep because every little sound or movement made by the baby will wake me up.

Tarja was the first baby that I had the pleasure of getting to wear with a sling, and I will tell you that it is the greatest thing in the world. The baby doesn't cry as much, and you have your hands free.

I have always been told that I hold my babies too much, which could spoil them. There is no denying that the princesses are spoiled, but now that they are in different stages of their lives, I can see that they are no worse for wear. Melody and Abbey are both very hard working, emotionally stable young ladies. Tarja is still a little princess, so the jury is still out on her progress, but I suspect that she will do just as well. If the worst thing that I ever do to my children is hold them, then things must be going in the right direction.

The fun thing about the stay at home mom vs. working mom debate is that I have been on both ends of the spectrum. In fact, I am now a work at home mom, which is even better. I feel like the more time that I spend at home with my children is also more time that I am working and earning money with my various little ventures. I did not enjoy working outside the home, but I did do it when it was absolutely necessary.

Questions come up all the time about how parents should handle certain issues in their households. Some of my favorite questions include:

Q: What time do your kids have to turn off their cell phones at night?
A: Because I am an insulin dependent diabetic, I want everybody's phones turned on at night. I realize that the question is really for the families whose children will stay up all night texting their friends, but I want to be able to communicate with everybody in the house, at any time, even if it has to be from the very next room. Phones, in my house, are not turned off. As for the texting issue, it hasn't been a problem here. They do have friends that they text and talk to for hours on end, but it has never interfered with sleep or school time.

Q: Is it right to make your children cook, clean, do laundry, etc?
A: I have always required that the girls help out around the house, not because I don't want to do housework, but because they need to learn how to take care of themselves. Melody and Abbey can do almost anything that I can do. Unfortunately, this idea was tested when I was put in the hospital a week before Ivana was born. They proved me right in that they were able to keep everything running smoothly while I was gone. This would not have been possible, had they been raised to expect that meals and household chores just get done by way of magic.

Q: What time do your kids have to go to bed?
A: Because my kids are homeschooled, they don't have to be in class by 8a.m. I used to stress over things like bedtime, until I realized that many of the things that the girls do independently in the evening hours are educational activities of their choosing. Consequently, they go to bed when they are tired, which is normally at a decent hour. When the night drags on to the point of ridiculous, then I will ask them to please put away the computer, classical music, library books, etc. and go to bed. Otherwise, I want them to continue learning, exploring and creating.

Have a Great Day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Princess Ivana

Princess Ivana was born at 8:21 this morning. She weighs 7 pounds. 2 oz. and is 21 inches long.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hard Work

I just copied this beautiful peace of writing from the facebook post of a friend of mine:

"Do not become the Christian whom everyone avoids because you are lazy and always making excuses. Be the Christian who is attractive because your work is excellent. People can depend on you, and you go the extra mile even when it is not your responsibility. For the good of the team and the glory of God, you work hard. You may even deserve other benefits, but you refuse them during this season for the sake of the bigger picture.

Indeed, hard work keeps you out of trouble. When you are busy working hard, you do not have time to behave badly. Gossip and complaining are absent from the lips of a hard worker. You simply do not have the time or energy to go there. It may be the sweat of your brow or the perspiration of your intellect, either way, work hard. Manual labor and mental toil both require hard work. Carefully avoid condescension toward others because their work role is different than yours. Blue collars need not bad mouth white collars, nor should white collars treat blue collars as if they were inferior. We all need each other, and we all need to work hard.

Your hard work may produce wealth and abundance. Because society values your skills and services, you may even have an overabundance. Make sure you keep your success in perspective. Keep your heart tender toward God. We seem to pray more when we have little than when we have much more than we need. Allow the fruit of your hard work to drive you to your knees in thanksgiving to God. Express your gratitude through generous giving. Hard work has its benefits; make sure to steward them well.

Moreover, teach your children hard work. A child who is given everything can become soft on sin, discontent, demanding and ungrateful. Hard work teaches children the value of a dollar. It builds a discipline that will serve them throughout their lives. They learn how to work with and relate to people. Hard work is a must for a child to grow into a healthy human being.

Lastly, keep your motive right as you work hard. Keep your focus off the money. Reward and compensation will come if the work is done with excellence. Stay the course, working hard, loving your family, and taking care of your health. Execute your hard work for the glory of God. He is your boss. You are working for Him. Work hard. Work hard so that you can eat. Then you will be a blessing and not a burden to others!"
*Wisdom hunters.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Waiting for Baby

Last week, I went for one of many prenatal visits for the baby, and the doctor sent me to labor and delivery because my blood pressure was elevated. He told me that I was going for observation and that if everything checked out all right, that I could leave. He didn't tell me that even though my daughter was stranded with me and that I had no warning at all, he planned on keeping me for a day or two! I fought and argued with the nurses nearly the whole time I was here. They had me lie in bed until the doctor was satisfied that my blood pressure was OK, and discharged me with the stipulation that I would be on strict bed rest over the weekend. Trying to keep me and then sending me home to be an invalid is no way to lower my blood pressure, for sure.

I went home, tried to be as lazy as possible throughout the weekend (keeping in mind that I do have three princesses at home, and a king that works overtime). After we rang in the new year as carefully as possible, I had another checkup at the high risk pregnancy center. As soon as that doctor saw me, he banished me to the hospital for a week! I have been here since last Tuesday. They've run all sorts of labs, and can't find that I have preeclampsia or any of the other bad things that could be wrong, but determined that I should still be hospitalized until the baby is induced.

A dear friend sent me a text message and asked me how I was doing, and I told her that I feel like a queen that has been kicked out of her castle.

My husband has stayed with me up until last night. Last night, he went home to be with the girls and his mother came to stay. She and I had fun together, but I know that she was very uncomfortable during the night. Incidentally, my mother in law has been in the delivery room for each and every princess.

This blog post is starting to turn into a chapter book. LOL! Those of you that know me well, know that I was crying before I started writing. I have to have a little vent with myself during crazy times. I saved it until everybody left, and then had a real, good, sobbing cry. BUT, I must add that last night, my mother in law brought me a book called, When God Winks at You. It's a very good book about how you will find little godwinks during times of stress, trouble, anguish, etc. While I was getting over my personal little meltdown, and was writing the previous paragraphs, a pleasant lady knocked on the door and offered me a back massage. What???? A masseuse in the hospital? That was definitely a godwink.

Here's the deal with the planned induction. There is nothing wrong with the baby. Princess Ivana is believed to be very healthy. All of my children have been induced, but I never really knew why. We learned from our nurse practitioner, that it isn't desirable for diabetic mothers to carry babies for a full 40 weeks, because the placenta gets old too fast, and the baby will outgrow it. At 37 weeks, the baby is considered full term, and one nurse stated that waiting any longer than that would be just waiting for bad things to happen. Therefore, tomorrow is the day.

If you are a praying person, please remember us.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cleaning Robots-How to Choose

As I lay in my hospital bed, awaiting the arrival of Princess Ivana, I discovered that I was given the opportunity to review an ebook that teaches busy housewives such as myself how to choose the best cleaning robot. After reading this short review on the various types of household robots that the author has tried and liked, I have decided that I need one. She goes into great detail about how each robot works in the home, whether or not they can be set to work when we are away from home, and what kind of battery life each robot features. This is a great read for anyone who is unsure about what type of housekeeping robot she will need for her particular situation. I, for one, will need one that sweeps and mops, since I have no carpet in any part of my home. You can order your copy of Cleaning Robots - How to Choose from this link, and educate yourself on the benefits of robots that clean your floors or your cat litter box.

So if you are like me, and don't enjoy cleaning as much as it may be presumed about us housewifey, homeschooling mamas, then you will definitely want to visit and learn more about having Robots in Every Home, or you may even be interested in their gorgeous Affiliate Program so that you can make some extra cash while you enjoy playing with your own robot.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.